What is a flash fire?
A flash fire is a sudden, intense fire caused by ignition of a mixture of air and a dispersed flammable substance such as a solid (including dust), flammable or combustible liquid (such as an aerosol or fine mist), or a flammable gas. It is characterized by high temperature, short duration, and a rapidly moving flame front. The National Fire Prevention Association defines it:
“A rapidly moving flame front which can be a combustion explosion. Flash fire may occur in an environment where fuel and air become mixed in adequate concentrations to combust...flash fire has a heat flux of approximately 84 kilowatts per square meter for relatively short periods of time, typically less than 3 seconds.”
Who is at risk of flash fire hazard?
Workers in environments where fuel, typically flammable gas or dust, is mixed with air in concentrations suitable for combustion are at risk of flash fire hazard.
In a flash fire event, most of the damage comes from thermal radiation and secondary fires. If inhaled, the heated air resulting from a flash fire can cause serious damage to the tissue of the lungs, possibly leading to death by asphyxiation. Untreated clothing may ignite as the result of a flash fire, leading to serious injury and even death.